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The Australian Defence Force has successfully tested BAE Systems‘ advanced precision-kill weapon system (APKWS) laser-guided rocket at the Woomera Prohibited Area test range in South Australia, paving the way for a live-fire flight trial in November.

BAE Systems precision guidance solutions director David Harrold said: "Through its long track record of success with the US military, the APKWS technology has always been used with a Hydra rocket.

"This demonstration highlights the unique mid-body design and versatility of the APKWS technology, by showcasing the ease of deployment on the FZ rocket and its native launcher."

Aimed at transforming a standard unguided 2.75in (70mm) rocket into a precision laser-guided weapon, the new APKWS is designed to successfully hit targets during the ground-based live-fire event, which marks a first-of-its-kind testing on a Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ) rocket.

"This demonstration highlights the unique mid-body design and versatility of the APKWS technology."

The ground-based live-fire event, led by the Australian Aerospace Operational Support Group, was conducted to certify the APKWS rocket for deployment by the Australian military. It will link the capability gap between unguided small-diameter rockets and larger-diameter anti-armour munitions.

Following the completion of next month’s live-fire flight trial, BAE’s APKWS rocket will be integrated into the navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and army’s Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopter, starting next year.

The Australian Army’s Aircraft Stores Compatibility Engineering Squadron rotary wing flight commander major David Paterson said: "The APKWS laser-guided rocket is an easy-to-use, cost-effective and flexible system.

"Delivering this capability to our troops while leveraging existing equipment is a significant accomplishment that will greatly expand and enhance our military helicopters’ mission success."

Image: An Australian Defence Force helicopter demonstrating BAE Systems’ advanced precision-kill weapon system (APKWS) laser-guided rocket. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.

Defence Technology